The popular First Light Festival in Lowestoft will be supported with £200,000 of funding to help ensure an exciting programme of activities when the event returns in 2022.
On Tuesday 7 September, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet agreed to allocate £200,000 towards the 24-hour event, organised by First Light CIC and held on Lowestoft’s award-winning South Beach each June.
The funding includes £114,277 carried over from the pot allocated to this year’s event, which was subsequently cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and replaced by a small programme of activities. The overall figure, however, represents an increase of over 40% in funds made available by East Suffolk for the festival.
Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development said: “This funding will ensure First Light 2022 can be an incredible event, with an exciting programme of arts activities, from music, dance, theatre and performances, all inspired by the town’s unique location and the creativity of local people. The inaugural festival was a great success, attracting visitors from across the country and boosting the local economy, as well as benefitting communities in Lowestoft and across East Suffolk.
“As shown by our ambitious joint bid with Great Yarmouth Borough Council for UK City of Culture 2025, culture plays a significant role in our plans for regeneration. Arts and cultural activities, such as First Light, bring people together, promote East Suffolk to a wide audience and attract investment which are all key as we look to recover from the pandemic.”
Genevieve Christie and Wayne Hemingway, on behalf of First Light CIC said: "The feel-good factor within Lowestoft that the inaugural First Light Festival created could almost be enough, but there is so much more. In addition to the not inconsiderable economic impact over that mid-summer, sunny weekend in June 2019 we are witnessing a significant number of creative led start-ups, there is an artistic renaissance - it’s no co-incidence that Banksy had a staycation! - and there are new progressive initiatives popping up all the time. Lowestoft is demonstrating significant self-confidence and this funding will allow First Light to build on this and deliver even more next year."
The festival, which attracted 30,000 people in 2019, celebrates Lowestoft's location on the east coast and positioned the town, and wider area, as a visitor destination.
First Light is an event of national signficance and whilst plans for the 2022 festival are still being developed, it is hoped that the event will be even larger than 2019, with a focus on young people. The programme is expected to include a mix of music, international DJs on the main stage, a larger Beach Club Bar, a showcase for talented new musicians and writers, comedy, dance and a late-night silent beach cinema.
First Light is also supported by Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia LEP.